Peru Church History
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Research procedures and genealogical sources are different for each religion. It is helpful to understand the historical events that led to the creation of records in which your family is listed. This outline will only refer to the Roman Catholic Church because other churches have only recently been introduced to Peru.
The Roman Catholic faith was brought to Peru at the time of the Spanish conquest in about 1532. From 1532 to the Constitution of 1920, Catholicism was the only religion accepted in Peru. The Constitution of 1920 provided freedom of religion, but since 1929, only Catholicism has been taught in state or private schools. By 1972, there were 784 Catholic parishes in Peru.
Peru has been included in the Apostolic Vicarage (Vicariatos Apostolicos) of Ecuador since 1952. The 1974 directory lists the present boundaries as the country of Peru.
The Catholic Church in Peru was divided in 1974 into 7 provinces, 14 dioceses, 14 prelaturas, 9 vicariatos apostólicos and 1 vicaría castrense ( military vicariate). The archdioceses are located in Lima, Arequipa, Ayacucho, Cuzco, Huancayo, Piura, and Trujillo.
A good history of the Catholic Church in Peru is:
- Vargas Ugarte, Rubén. Historia de la iglesia en el Perú (History of the Church in Peru). 5 vols. Lima : Imprenta Santa María, 1953. (FHL book 985 K2v.)
In order to find the church records you need, you must be able to find which jurisdiction your ancestor would have been in. The Catholic Church has expanded and created new jurisdictional entities as follows:
- 1536 Diocese of Cuzco
- 1541 Diocese of Lima
- 1546 Archdiocese of Lima, with bishops in the Dioceses of Cuzco, Quito (Ecuador), Castilla del Oro (Panamá), León de Nicaragua, and Popayán (Colombia).
- 1577 Dioceses of Trujillo and Arequipa
- 1609 Diocese of Huamanga (Ayacucho)
- 1804 Diocese of Maynas
- 1838 The diocese of Maynas was moved to Chachapoyas.
- 1861 Diocese of Puno
- 1865 Diocese of Huánuco
- 1901 Diocese of Cajamarca
- 1909 Apostolic Prefectures of San Francisco del Ucayali (now San Ramón) and San León del Amazonas (now Iquitos)
- 1921 Prefecture of San Gabriel del Marañón
- 1936 The prefecture of San Gabriel del Marañón was elevated to vicarage.
- 1940 Diocese of Piura
- 1943 The dioceses of Cuzco, Trujillo, and Arequipa were elevated to archbishoprics and made ecclesiastical provinces.
- 1945 Prefecture of San José de Amazonas
- 1946 Prefecture of San Francisco Javier del Marañón
- 1946 Diocese of Ica
- 1948 Prelate of Moyobamba
- 1954 Dioceses of Huancayo, Huancavelica, and Tacna
- 1955 The prefecture of San José de Amazonas was elevated to vicarage.
- 1956 Diocese of Chiclayo
The vicarage of Ucayali was divided into the vicarages of Requena and Pucallpa.
- 1957 Prelates of Yauyos, Juli, and Caravelí
- 1958 Dioceses of Huacho and Abancay
Prelates of Huari, Tarma, and Ayaviri
- 1959 Prelate of Sicuani
- 1961 Prelate of Huamachuco
- 1962 Prelates of Chuquibamba and Chimbote
- 1963 Prelate of Chota
- 1967 Diocese of Callao
- 1968 Prelate of Chquibambilla
- 1997 The dioceses of Lurín, Chosica, and Carabayllo were created from the Archdiocese of Lima.
As of 1993, the Catholic Church had seven archdioceses, one military archdiocese, eight dioceses, and eight apostolic vicarages.
A wiki article describing an online collection is found at: